top of page
  • Writer's pictureNatalie Tai

DROP THE SHAME AND EMBRACE THE GRACE OF MENSTRUATION

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

Did you know for almost 20% of the year, women have blood flowing out of their vagina?


The following article is published under the pure innocence of a young teenager and is not meant in any intention of offense. If you find any of the below content insensitive, inappropriate, or dangerous to audience members, feel free to contact us by filling in the message section via the bottom of the main page, please. Thank you.


How did menstruation become a taboo?


Menstruation has existed long before the rise of civilization yet remains a taboo topic for most around the world. With the long-established rituals of religion and conventional or rather outdated superstitions of various cultures, a dominating flame of social stigma still surrounds the topic of menstruation regardless of its persistent and popular visitation to most women along with other folks cross-continent.


Persecution against menstruating women are traced back to religion where periods are considered impure and disgraceful. Menstrual taboos can be found in the Qur'an [2:22], the Christian Bible [Leviticus 15], and various interpretations of the Holy Vedas of Hinduism, where it is claimed that the monthly course of women possesses the power of harm while it is advised for men to stay away from their wives during menstruation and only approach them once purification is done.


An introduction to Chhaupadi



The negative perspective most hold towards menstruation is furthermore compounded by the lack of information and blinded beliefs of archaic and dangerous cultural superstitions; and, in many places of the world, over-devotion becomes a matter of life and death.


In the conventional Hindu families of South Asia, women are oftentimes relegated into what is commonly known and menstrual huts and sheds whilst going through their monthly cycle of menstruation in the ancient practice of Chhaupadi. These women are isolated from the rest of the family due to the rooted belief that claims the impurity of menstrual blood. Although some families choose to build these huts for their daughters and daughters-in-law, others simply banish these women into barns among the disease-infested livestock they raise. The inferior living conditions have put the safety and sanitation of women at risk with reported deaths coming from dehydration, disease, and smoke inhalation, etc. Women often have restricted access to water due to its believed sacredness in the Hindu religion. During the harsh Himalayan winters of Nepal, several deaths have been reported due to excessive inhalation followed by poisoning of gases coming from the fires built for warmth. Although Chhaupadi has been outlawed in 2017, this ancient ritual is still practiced across the population of Hindus in South Asia.


They are everywhere...



Period taboos also exist outside of Chhaupadi. The negative limelight society has put on the topic of menstruation has left women suffering both physically and emotionally. Girls are forced to sacrifice their education throughout the duration of their menstrual cycle with reports explaining how more girls are skipping school due to periods in comparison to the flu, holidays, or truancy. It is elaborated that 1 in 30 girls are missing school due to their menstrual cycle and 1 in 10 of them, due to the lack of menstrual hygiene products. Many women of the United States are still facing a crisis in which they lack access to these products because of its affordability. Even more shockingly, period products such as pads and tampons in the US are taxed as “Luxury Items”, furthermore hindering women’s ability to seek menstrual safety and sanity.


Things are getting better, but there's a lot more ground to cover!


Though women are still faced with the monthly struggle of menstruation, several countries, including many mentioned above, are turning they're long-lived social stigma around, now fighting for normality among the natural female anatomy. The Kenyan government has taken action regarding female students’ access to period products by putting in $3 million per year to provide pads in schools of low-income communities. Interestingly, other societies including modern-day hunter-gatherer tribes and the Ancient Egyptian society see menstruation as sacred, healing and even protective. The ancient Kahun Gynecological Papyrus of Egypt even perceives menstrual blood an ingredient for medical cures.


If society puts down the shame associated with menstruation and stand up to fight against injustice, girls would be put at a much safer and cleaner place than where they stand now. Let us stand together in this fight for equity. Share this article to create awareness for menstrual taboos around the world.


Works Cited

Druet, Anna. "How did menstruation become taboo?" Clue, September 8 2017, helloclue.com/articles/culture/how-did-menstruation-become-taboo, January 29 2020.


Stockton, Richard. "Let It Bleed: A People's History of Menstruation", All Things Interesting, September 9 2016, allthatsinteresting.com/menstruation-history, January 29 2020.


Cousins, Sophie. "In Nepal, Tradition is Killing Women", Foreign Policy, January 6 2019, foreignpolicy.com/2019/01/06/in-nepal-tradition-is-killing-women-chhaupadi-womens-rights-menstruation/, January 29 2020.

Andersson, Jasmine. "Girls miss more school due to periods than flue, holidays, or truancy - and the government needs to take action now, say campaigners", inews UK, 21 May 2019, inews.co.uk/news/education/girls-miss-school-periods-more-flu-holidays-truancy-501657, January 29 2020.


Other Credits


Andrea Huang: Editor

Comments


bottom of page